“We are all wolves, howling at the same moon” (Atticus Poetry)
January 6, 2023. January’s Full “Wolf” Moon
Flambé isn’t cowering with fear, but with extreme caution and awe as the January 6th Moon rises over the mountain on the heels of sunset. Silhouetted against the bright lunar background is a gorgeous wolf, howling a summons to his pack. It is cause for celebration as the Full “Wolf” Moon promises to illuminate the night until sunrise …. the hunt will bring a bountiful feast …… all prey should be wary. In the deep shadows of a stately tree, Flambé is safely hidden, or is she?
Naming the northern hemisphere’s January Full Moon.
Traditionally called the Wolf Moon because these denizens of the woods were thought to howl more in January due to hunger. Today we know wolves vocalize in many ways throughout the year and for a variety of reasons; to define territory, reinforce social bonds, locate pack members and coordinate hunting activities.
In addition to Wolf Moon, Native Americans had many other fitting names for January’s Full Moon. The Assiniboine people of the Northern Great Plains called it the Center Moon, to mark the middle of the cold season. To emphasize the harsh coldness of the season, the Cree called it the Cold Moon or Frost Exploding Moon; the Algonquin called it the Freeze Up Moon (Algonquin); the Dakota used Severe Moon. Another Dakota’s name for this month’s Full Moon was Hard Moon, referring to the hard crust that forms on fallen snow. Canada Goose Moon (Tlingit), Great Moon (Cree), Greetings Moon (Western Abenaki), and Spirit Moon (Ojibwe) have also been recorded as Full Moon names for this month.
Now, back to the Wolf Moon and what does it symbolize in folklore and myth?
Did you know that a bright first Moon was believed to bring rain and a bountiful harvest, where a red-tinted Wolf Moon means a dry year lies ahead?
Said to represent new beginnings, the Wolf Moon was thought to conquer light over darkness as the days grow longer. Native American stories say that tribes harnessed this power. Instead of looking upon it with fear, they made it their own. This allowed them to fight off any potential invaders that posed a threat.
Further, based on folklore (according to the Farmer’s Almanac), the Wolf Moon is regarded as the most dangerous of all full moons for werewolves — second only to Halloween’s Blood Moon. The legend goes that werewolves, normally known to be solitary, tend to wander in a pack during a Wolf Moon.
Did someone say “werewolves?” !!!!!
The oldest recorded account of a man turning from man to wolf is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh which dates back to 2,100 BC. Then in ancient Greek mythology the concept of werewolves were referenced with ties to cannibalism. Since these times, historians believe werewolves were used to to fend off cannibalism. And then in a complete twist of logic, communities would shun individuals who ate human flesh, casting them to be wild beasts. Over time, the theory of cannibals being akin to animals slowly transformed into cannibals being animals themselves — like the werewolf. Very confusing and misleading, huh?
Of course, werewolves don’t exist, but wolves do!
Wolves and the Moon, Full or otherwise, have nothing more in common than the night sky. Scientists have been unable to prove the Moon’s phases play a part in wolf behavior. But still, lacking knowledge about wolf behavioral biology. it may be easy to see why a few cultures drew their own conclusions. Today, we can debunk these ancient beliefs with the discovery and understanding of few facts. For one,
Wolves are nocturnal animals. They’re generally more active at night, hunting for prey that might not be able to see as well in the darkness. In addition,
Wolves point their heads upwards as they howl. They may be facing the Moon — since it’s an inevitable part of the sky — but they’re not calling directly to it. The reason they face the sky is simply for better acoustics. The more open the air, the better their voices will carry. Also,
Howling is also more common at night since it’s a form of navigation. It allows wolves to warn the rest of the pack if there any threats around and keep track of everyone’s location. And lastly,
January is when wolves tend to howl a lot more than usual. This is probably because during the first few months of the year is when wolves start mating.
Now, back to our January 6th Full Wolf Moon ……..
This year, 2023, January’s Full Moon is a “Micromoon.” This means the Moon is in apogee, or at its farthest point (252,600 miles) from Earth. (Compare this with a Supermoon, which is in perigee, and at its closest point (226,000 miles) to Earth.) This change in distances between apogee and perigee all have to do with the elliptical path of the Moon’s orbit around Earth. Although the change in distances do affect the Moon’s visual size and brightness from Earth, it’s likely not a visible change to the naked eye. We just perceive a change that’s merely an illusion, having more to do with how close the Moon appears to the horizon. With the January Micromoon, it reaches its Full phase when it’s higher above the horizon than a Supermoon would, and doesn’t appear to loom over us as we gaze up in wonder!
If you want to know when the January 6th Micro “Full Wolf” Moon pops over the horizon in your backyard, consult the moonrise calculator using the link below. And have a “howling” good time!
Did you watch?
As always, Flambé invites you to follow her Zentangle-inspired antics (ZIAs) by visiting her page called Tangled Up, to see what trouble she always seems to find, past and present.
Fascinating post and beautifully rendered!
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Thank you so so much! This was a fun Full Moon post. I really was fascinated to learn about wolves, the difference between apogee and perigee, and fantastical werewolves.
Fantastic information about the moon! I always learn so much in your posts (I’m going to forward this one to my mom as she loooooves the moon!) and love your incredible zentangle — and the Stoddard poem is lovely! 2 nights ago, we had not wolves howling at the moon, but coyotes barking and yipping so loudly right in the back of our property! We went out and I caught them on video, well at least recorded the sound. We stood at the back fence looking down into the blackness of the forest and up at the clear, nearly full moon and it was so magical!
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Super Karen! I’m honored to have your mom read my posts. I also absolutely love our Moon, full or otherwise. The way it orbits Earth and shows us so many different phases (I think of them as personalities) has always fascinated me. This Full Moon project is really lots of fun, and I’m also learning so much too! Thanks for the comments. On your audio recording of backyard coyotes …. Very cool! When we were in Africa a number of years ago, we let the video run at night just to capture the night sounds …… ran the gamut from spooky to magical, murderous to musical. Thanks for sharing!
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